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The region of Brussels-Capital is composed of 19 municipalities but most of the tourist attractions concentrate in a few of them, the most central ones: Brussels-City, Ixelles, Saint-Gilles, Schaerbeek and Koekelberg.
Within those municipalities, some neighborhoods have developed a particular personality:
Les Marolles are often referred to as the place where the real “Brusseleirs” live (“de echte Brusseleirs”). They speak their own language, the “Brusselair” which is a mixture of French and Dutch. This popular neighborhood boasts secondhand stores and decoration shops as well as typical restaurants and cafes. Every morning, on the “Place du jeu de balle”, a flea market takes place.
The Sablon. 2 squares (the Big Sablon and the little Sablon), one neo-gothic church (the Sablon Church or Church of Our Lady of the Victories) and many old streets and houses surrounding the squares compose one of the oldest neighborhoods of Brussels. Today, it is the chic place to go for beautiful antiques (antique market every Saturday and Sunday on the Sablon square), art galleries as well as the finest chocolate and pastries in town (Wittamer, Marcolini).
The Mont des Arts area, situated between the Brussels Park, Royal Palace and Royal Square and the Central Station, full of museums ( Musical instruments museum, Royal Museum of the Fine Arts), centers for the performing arts ( Center for Fine Arts) and historical monuments.
Not far from the city center, the European Quarter has been built in the last decade and has deeply transformed the landscape and community life in the area. The Berlaymont building and the new modern headquarters of the European Commission are the new landmarks of this neighborhood, now full of eurocrats and expatriates.
Matonge is home to an important Sub-Saharan community (mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a former Belgian colony) which makes this neighborhood atypical and unique, with its African shops, hairdressers, cafes and restaurants.
Saint-Gilles used to be a relatively cheap and popular neighborhood, although you can find many beautiful houses of the Art Nouveau style. Many bobos (“bourgeois-bohême”) have settled there in the last decade. Today, it still hosts a very diverse community which boasts a vibrant life, daily and nightly.
Avenue Louise and Toison D'Or are high end shopping streets, close together, where the Eurocrats and diplomats shop. Big name fashion Stores have a branches there Chanel, Dior, etc.). Nearby is Place du Chatelain, a charming square with several cute cafes and a gorgeous flower shop. There is an outdoor market on Wednesday afternoons/evenings in the middle of the Place du Chatelain.
Ixelles is another nice quarter. Stroll around the famous Ponds of Ixelles, pick up a "gaufre" or a glass of wine at the outdoor market, and enjoy the scenery.
The Saint-Jacques, near the Grand’Place, has become the gay neighborhood of the capital city.
Street Antoine Dansaert is the new fashion center of Brussels.
Saint-Gery / Sainte-Catherine, recently revitalized and restored with its hip cafes and trendy restaurants.